With a summer that might most probably be spent indoors, thanks to the COVID-19 lockdown and an extended school break, your music budding kid(s), and particularly stringed instruments enthusiast, you have an opportunity to easily introduce cello lessons for kids as one among the many other skills they could learn just from home. What a way it would be to account for the break.
It’s one of those enjoyable kid activities although it definitely isn’t a source of instant gratification, but worth the effort; even better, if a rewarding professional career is borne thereof.
By the way, thanks to the richness of the Italian language, violoncello is the correct name of this four (4) stringed music instrument, from the instruments’ family of viols. Basically, meaning the “small large viol” or better still, “a little violone”. The naming was all inspired by the change in size over time. However, it’s easily called “cello”; if many, refer to them as celli or cellos.
That said, when your child finally masters playing it, the world will call him a “cellist”. He will remember the summer with nostalgia when stardom hits; playing it in an orchestra or even playing it as the solo instrument in a concert.
If your child is familiar with or shows interest in a violin, he will have fewer difficulties to take-up cello lessons for kids, just like a fish in water. Well, more like it. And why will it not be, when the cello and the violin have similar parts, and strings tuning from low to high.
However, the child will definitely need a teacher for instruction and guidance while starting off. This is majorly because cello music is written as notes and rhythm, and will need interpretation.
Familiarity with notes and rhythm makes learning cello even easier and enjoyable. The instructor will help in appreciating and knowing the right tone quality, intonation, posture, coordination among other things that make a master player.
However, cello plays notes lower than a violin but higher the string bass. That’s because its strings are more than twice the length of the violin strings. That said, if a child can play a violin, he most definitely can learn how to play easily. One amazing fact is that, the current size of cellos is a significant down scaling of size that was meant to minimize the cellist’s left hand’s tension.
Choice between Electric vs. Acoustic cellos for your cello lessons for kids
Acoustic cello is more traditional while Electric cello is relatively new. While acoustic cello may be the most ideal for bands and orchestras, electric cello come with some great and endearing additions above the acoustic one. Some of them are affordability and good sound qualities that are unique. However, they are not the best for bands and orchestras.
You can buy electric cello from Amazon.com
Is playing cello beneficial to your child?
Why would you want your child spend time on an activity that promises no benefits? However, you child will benefit both physically and mentally in the following ways:
- The child’s cognitive skills These are skills the brain uses in thinking, learning, reading, memory and even paying attention. All these put together, help in taking in information and processing it for application.
In learning how to play cello, these skills are highly developed; attention is needed to learn and understand the intonations of sound and notes.
- Unmatched therapy by the music and sounds. It’s so therapeutic and teaches a child how to manage stressful situations. Why lie, learning to play skillfully maybe somewhat stressful. However, courage and self-expression is nurtured.
- Develops hand-eye coordination. Playing cello will require a keen hand and vision coordination. Ultimately, these other skills are highly developed.
- Develops great brain stimulation and concentration. Music has a great effect in making the player develop in creativity, develop and nurture a practice.
- As you may already know, the cello is not played by many. It’s a rare skill. Subsequently, the few that do are highly sought after and easily make a career out of it. Talk of circumventing competition pool smartly!!!!
Two most ideal methods of learning to play cello for children are;
- The Suzuki Instruction Method: If thinking about introducing cello lessons for kids, this is very ideal, particularly for a child learning how to speak because it’s purely based on a language learning model. It’s recommended for children from age 3 years – 4.5 years.
Through listening and repetition and with the help of a senior, learning to play music will be as easy as the learning of instructing language.
- The traditional Instruction method: This is for children that have outgrown the Suzuki instruction method. Basically, the method seeks to build a wholesome musician. It drills down notes reading as well as playing technique development. Practice makes all the difference.
Beside the two common methods of instruction as explained above, technology maneuvers have made it even easier to learn cello via online materials and the help of applications privately. Why not use them when they are watching on your budget. Some of the best applications are;
- Free cello lessons app: It’s an app that can be good for beginners, both kids and adults. It’s an ideal app for those learners who want to make the most with their time for rehearsals.
- Play along cello app: It gives the flexibility to select ones’ level of training. Comes with videos of newer and widely known songs. This enables today’s learner relate well. Also offers technical tips and its ideal for kid learners.
- Cello ear training app: Makes ear training fun. Gives feedback on a learner’s performance.
Additionally, some of the current apps in use in cello lessons for kids come equipped with recording ability so that the learner can listen back and self-assess how they’re progressing.
How you can encourage your child to learn to play cello;
Like all other life lessons to a child, a parent’s hand is critical. Likewise, your input will come in handy to educate and encourage you child on matters playing cello. You may be asking how? Some or all of these motivational actions among many others not listed here would go a long way.
- Avail contentment that will both entertain and motivate the child to like and long to learn to play cello and play well. There is enough online content and video tutorials to spur motivation and urge to learn playing cello.
- You could also gather other interested children and form a nice, large playing group. In anycase, your child’s eyes are focused on playing in orchestras.
- What can beat taking the child to a live performance by an orchestra? That experience alone will sure motivate the young and budding cellist in him.
- Cello music is written in notes and rhythms. Get the child those books for references. Some of the books come with CDs that a child can play along as they learn to play.
- You could agree on setting milestones to be attained during learning. This will motivate the child further if attained and also help evaluate progress.
They could also learn with an end goal of attaining reputable cello qualifications. Target registration at some point with ABRSM, the world’s acclaimed and certified music examinations provider.
Verdict on the best age to introduce cello lessons for kids
Ever heard that brains in early stages of life are like sponges that easily absorb and retain? Isn’t it thus obvious that young minds are very quick in learning and retaining new knowledge and skills?
The excitement of the new instrument and sky high eagerness to learn makes them best candidates. The prospect of stardom after expertise; playing in that big concert always inwardly generates the drive. Your child is not too late to start learning.
Basic information before learning to play cello:
Cellist’s playing position
Unlike a violin which is light and easily tucked on the neck; and can be played in a standing position, the cello is too damn big, both in weight and height.
As a result, it’s difficult to be played in a standing position. As a result, the cellist sits down and holds it between the knees while playing.
Cello placing while playing
The cello stands on a pin that extends at the bottom that holds up the cello from touching or falling to the ground.
Quick Note: The endpin is adjustable to the cellist’s most comfortable height position of the cello. It was A.F. Servais, one of the great tutors and performers who made it popular after holding his Stradivari with his legs made him overweight.
An ordinary cello is slightly upward of a metre in height. However, this shouldn’t discourage your budding kid because there are smaller sized cellos. Common and ideal sizes for young learners are 1/16, ⅛, and ¼ cellos. However, check-out for compatibility with your child’s arm reach. They are available on amazon and other online platforms.
Helpful Cello size matrix
|Cello Size||Age Bracket (Yrs.)||Back Length (Inches)||Avg. Height (Feet)|
|1/16 and 1/8||3-7||17.75 – 20||Under 4|
|¼||6-8||20 – 23|
|½||8-11||23 – 26||4.5|
|¾||12-16||26 – 30||4.5 – 5|
|4/4||Over 16||Over 30||Over 5|
Today’s Cello strings are mostly made of metal wiring and synthetic polymer. However, there are those made of sheep’s gut like they historically used to be.
To get that deep loud sound, the cellist has to exert and increase downward force on the bridge of the cello by having the cello’s neck slouch backward.
Strings need good care for optimal performance and obviously, durability.
A good quality bow
The bow should have just the right flexibility/strength, weight and balance. It should not be difficult for handling by a child. Further, to enhance the “bite” of the bow on the strings, bow hairs are applied with Rosin.
Key accessories of a cello:
Other than the plucking bow and endpin (explained above), other accessories that are covered in the cello lessons for kids include;
The wolf-tone eliminator:
Placed between the tail piece and the bridge, it’s meant to amplify frequencies of a played note while also eliminating and lowering unwanted noise (also called wolf notes) to inaudible levels.
The wolf-tone eliminator is made of brass and placed of the on the G string; the 2nd string from the left.
Cello bags and cases:
Definitely, your child’s cello deserves protection from damage. Subsequently, a sturdy cello case will be needed to offer that protection. You’ll be spoilt for variety with range of choice dictated by factors such as your budget size to the unique needs they are meant to serve.
However, the pricey ones are mostly made of carbon fibre and are lightweight. They could also have extra room for accessories; have wheels, latches and/or locks too. All said, ensure the case is properly padded.
Some of the best cello bags include;
- Sinfonica Cello Cases
- Hidersine Cello Cases
- Bam Cello Cases
- Gewa Cello Cases
Most preferably made of special rubber; it’s an attachment to the cello’s bridge whose purpose is to mellow higher notes.
However, it could still be metallic or wooden. Either make, they serve the same purpose of limiting cello’s vibrations to dampen the sound.
- Other accessories could include the cello strap, music stand and even tuning pegs.
Surprise: A metronome would come in handy as an added accessory to help your kid play the beat correctly.
Effects of Humidity on the cello
To a large part, the cello is made of well fashioned wood and abit of other organic products. As such, they are prone to humidity fluctuations effects. However, this is common to most if not all stringed instruments.
Too much cold/humid air will make the wood swell while dry air makes it shrink. Both air change swings have impact on the performance of the instrument.
These affect the cello in the following ways;
- Making the strings too tight and stiff or loose and flaccid,
- Poor sound projection,
- Could also cause coming apart of the cello at the seams,
- Bulging weight of the cello due to moisture increase,
To ensure the instrument is not left to the mercies of air quality fluctuations, a hygrometer is necessary to measure humidity levels. This lets you know whether the cello is either too wet or too dry.
On establishing the humidity levels, a humidifier or a dehumidifier is used if too hot or too dry respectively in the environment where your child is playing the cello.
In case of travelling with the cello, a Dampit for humidifying and ensuring your cello doesn’t crack or warp comes in handy. Additionally, some high-end cases come inbuilt with both hygrometers and humidifiers. However, they can also be bought separately and mounted on the case that you have.
Conclusion: Playing cello is very soothing and the success with mastery that is borne thereof is very gratifying. You too could join your child and learn playing cello alongside your child. Stardom is within reach, of course after cello lessons for kids are taken with dedication and good practice.